Karen Sudu, Gleaner Writer
TRESHAWNA DOUGLAS' average of 97 per cent in the recent Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) not only made her top performer at the Time and Patience Primary School in St Catherine, but also the institution's first scholarship winner.
"She said that she would get a scholarship," her mom, Trecia Watt-Douglas, who was her grade six teacher, recalled.
In fact, Treshawna, one of 14 awardees of the Sagicor Jamaica Limited Scholarship, earned a place at the school of her first choice; Ardenne High.
For her remarkable performance, she also received a $15,000 book grant from Burger King and cash and a trophy from the Victoria Mutual Building Society GSAT Bursary.
"I studied mainly social studies and science because those were my weak subjects. I worked with a timetable, too," the eloquent student shared with Rural Xpress.
Like her mom, Dave Kelly, principal of the institution established around 1948, was also enthused.
"Treshawna has been a very smart child from the very first day she came here. What has guaranteed her success is consistency on the parents' and the teachers' part," he stated.
Notably, 66 students sat the two-day exam. They were placed at institutions including Merl Grove, St Jago High, St Catherine High, Dinthill Technical, McGrath High, and Charlemont High schools.
In the past, students earned places at Immaculate Conception High, Holy Childhood High, Queen's High, St Andrew High, Calabar, and Glenmuir High schools.
Kelly, principal for the last six of his 21 years at the institution, revealed that the students' continued noteworthy performance didn't happen by chance. This has been achieved through strategic planning and the initiation and implementation of various programmes and projects.
"We do a standard literacy test, which involves oral comprehension, oral reading, a variety of comprehension stimuli - a task that incorporates forms, literacy, composition - so when the child masters that test, it always guarantees success on the ministry's Grade Four Literacy Test," the Miconian detailed.
Not only that, but each teacher is expected to take his or her students to a higher level at the end of each academic year.
"At the beginning of the year, the teacher receives the students with their grades in literacy and numeracy, and their averages, and at the end of the year, it is expected to move them up by nine per cent - three per cent in each term," he explained.
At the same time, Kelly pointed out that while this and other educational goals were attained each year, it has not been without challenges.
"As it relates to classroom space, we do not have sufficient accommodation. Accommodation stands at 350. Our student population is 519. That means we do not have space for 150 children, so we have to make do with the classroom space for participation and put the students in these groups," he said.
Also, unlike some primary institutions, Time and Patience lacks a library and a computer laboratory.
"We have a small room that we are going to transform into a miniature library. We have some computers, which we received from Food For The Poor and a past student in Canada," he said.
The need for a guidance counsellor, a secretary, a groundsman, and a watchman was also highlighted.
Notwithstanding, in addition to academics, the institution has excelled in the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission performing arts competitions and in sports.
In fact, former head boy, John Vernon, who gained a place at St Jago High School in the recent GSAT, captured the Boys' Class One Sprint Double at the 2013 Insports/Seprod Primary Schools' Athletics Championships.
For some, it is Kelly's remarkable leadership skills and the teachers' dedication to duty that have brought about commendable results in all spheres.
"Mr Kelly stays on top of his job. The administrative approach to the development of the students is also key to much of what the GSAT results have been reflecting. I think the teachers here make a lot of effort to bring the students to an acceptable level," Herman Williams, school chaplin for the last five years, told Rural Xpress.
The parent-teacher association has also been playing an integral role in the development of the institution.
The association is now pursuing a three-year project to fence the institution, which is staffed by 16 teachers and has a student population of 519.